The course I am studying is Accounting and Economics, I have started my third year as placement student at BMW Financial services. I have now been here for just over a month and a half. I was determined to a placement as this year isn’t just about growing hard skills such as commination skills but also the growth of soft skills too. In terms of independence, getting a feel of a full time job and the responsibilities of living away from home for the first time. Lastly it’s about having a global brand on your CV which gives you an advantage when you graduate. I have always been unsure about the area I want to go into after studying, therefore by being a Project Management Office (PMO) intern I have boarded my ideas of possible jobs after graduation. Project management is very niche skill to have, and never considered it until I saw this job role therefore I would say be open to the roles you apply for within companies, as you don’t realise the number of different areas there are within a company and Finance itself.
The placement team were great, with support throughout every stage and I remember after my first rejection they were there to console me and keep me motivated. Use them as much as you can, especially with perfecting you STAR technique, because it works! The mock interviews are very helpful they give an example of how a 1:2:1 is, it is an eye opener of how much preparation is necessary to do well in interview. I believe this is the one stage where you are in control as you have the experience and it’s just the matter of explaining each experience in depth. (Setting the scene, what went well, what didn’t go to plan and how you can improve?) always try to use real examples rather made up ones, as I felt when I was using situations that had occurred with me it was easier to share that and I was more confident in interviews where I was using real life examples (team work, organisation skills etc, as you don’t need to force yourself to remember something.
After you have been through stages of an application write down everything and keep notes from your meetings with team and keep answers to online questions as they come in handy when applying somewhere else as the application process is very similar for a lot of companies. Let the team know if you get far into the process as it is most likely that there is a current DMU placement student there on his/her placement who can help you in terms of hints/tips and give you a head ups pf what might be asked on day and any activities which might take place, giving you an advantage on the day. However to not become reliant on this, for example at one of my assessment centres there was a current DMU student who had helped me a lot, but I was still not offered the job as I didn’t practice as much as I should of, so it is still necessary to prepare 100%.
In total I had applied for over 45 applications and reached 7 final stages, the final stage is usually after the CV, cover letter, online tests and telephone interview stage, where eventually you reach a one to one interview or an assessment centre. BMW was my 6th assessment centre, believe it or not I had two offers come through and was given a rare chance to choose one. So I considered many things, how the company culture is, do I fit in within the company, and which company will help me progress my skills and the job role where I want to learn more about and expand my skills in.
Overall out of 48 applications, 20 online tests, 10 telephone interviews, 7 final stage (final interview/assessment centre) and 2 job offers. I was declined 46 time, but it’s the acceptances that matter, so don’t give up.
BMW is fantastic, I still feel like it’s a dream to be part of a company so big and well known. The responsibilities given within my team is great, you don’t feel like you’re an intern but a full-time employee. I completed work which no one on team could do due lack of a certain skill or time and I have completed jobs for colleagues within my team who have years of experience and I have worked along with project managers within my team.
The environment is great, it is very casual not like a usual cooperate company. You can wear what makes you feel comfortable as long it is appropriate. The hours are very flexible as long as you do your core hrs you can come in late but finish late (vice versa), which is great if you have to leave early one day a week to travel back home or if you like going to the gym in the evenings. The support given within the company is very helpful, everyone is assigned an intern buddy who you have as support who isn’t in your team, and you can discuss your problems, any issues with them or a general catch up. The intern program has been running for 2-3 years so the company is very organised and determined to make this a great place for interns, additional training is given which you can talk about on your CV. The place is great for networking, there’s employees who have worked for PWC, KMPG and other major companies. The managers and CEO’s are so welcoming and helpful I have been lucky enough to sit down with them one by one to learn more from them and ask for advice and tips for future career prospects and different careers areas. The best thing about working for BMW is that it has every department possible from, Risk, auditing and finance to legal, sales and HR. Therefore if you are given the opportunity to network and meet people than I would recommend it, this is a great way to start thinking about what you might want to do after graduation what area within the company or interests you. Furthermore it’s about who you know as it can help with future graduate job applications and references. There are so many trips and opportunities available here, for example we have trips organised to the MINI and Rolls Royce plant, which make the year a little more exciting. There is a lot of cooperate discounts available with brands such as Apple, EE, Cosco and Virgin gyms.
The one advice I would give is do not give up, I know the people who are on their placement journey right now reading this are probably thinking it’s easier said than done. After my fourth rejection from an assessment centre with Disney I felt like giving up because honestly each rejection hurts, but then you got to believe that it was not meant to be, and there is a job role fit for you, your skill set and your personality. It was actually after this rejection I had pushed myself to carry on applying and I had applied for the BMW role. Now I look back and think how wrong I would have been to give up. I always believed even if you do not receive a job offer, going to interviews and meeting managers of amazing companies is an experience itself as you have to apply for jobs after graduation anyway, just now you will have had experience in those environments. Along with this your confidence will grow and you will grow new skills such as communication, professionalism and independence.
Always contact the company to ask why you were not selected so you know what areas you can improve on, so next time you don’t make the same mistakes again. Be honest in your interviews if you lack a skill tell them that but also say how you are working on improving and preparing yourself for this job role. For example in my final interview with Bosch I had told them I had used Excel in my ICT a-level before but it was a few years ago, and since then my skills in Excel have dropped. But I told them how I would be using university resources to improve this, by doing this it shows you are not perfect but you are willing to improve for them. By chance on the day there was an Excel test which I didn’t do too well in. But I was still offered the job, due to the fact I tried hard in the test, I was honest and I had answered the interview questions very well (STAR technic) using great examples from my past work experience.
I hope everyone who wants to secure placement does, and if anyone wants needs any help in preparing I am more than happy to help with preparing and any general help with process. The placement team should have my email so feel free to ask them for it.
Ps if I can do it anyone can